Hannah McNeish/IRIN

World News


Fragile States Need to Achieve Prosperity and Security

There was a soccer tournament one evening in a small town somewhere in Africa, and a group of soldiers approached the soccer field. They came to deliver free healthcare supplies to the members of the community as part of a military healthcare exercise. The youths saw the convoy of the army vehicles approaching; they all fled immediately. The military men put up their tent, but very few people came out to receive the free healthcare that was offered. Most of the residents were scared and terrified. From experience, soldiers are not known to be friendly people. They are seen as oppressors rather than saviors. They are people who have the authority to cause pain to any “bloody civilian” who crosses their path.

Fragile states always want to achieve prosperity, but security for citizens must come first. These states need to retrain their military and other security forces. Because there is no trust in the rule of law, or the state’s ability to provide security for its citizens, peace is not consolidated or sustained. Without peace, there can be no prosperity. Security sector reform is a crucial issue for the twenty-first century.

The era of tyrant regimes is gone; no individual should feel oppressed or bullied. A citizen should feel safe rather than scared when men in uniform are around. But the opposite is seen in developing countries. We still find men in uniform used to rig elections; collect bribes to allow illicit activities to take place; some even get involved with high profiled criminal organizations. They become criminals who bully private citizens and get away with it. These are practices that must change.

For a society to grow, it needs to develop. Development is a multidimensional process marked by improvement of indicators to life expectancy, level of education, a ratio of doctors to the population, and labor productivity. We need development to be sustainable and involve the notion of advancement, including freedom, justice, and equity. We need development to be ethical. Countries affected by instability and war tend to be the countries that develop the least.

Security is a prerequisite for development and poverty alleviation. Peace will make people in a community have shared ideas. It will allow people to live in harmony; economic stability will reign. The market will be open for investors; innovation will thrive and bring economic opportunities. There will be no fear of losing property due to conflict, and markets will grow. Citizens can find better opportunities to earn a living.

Security sector reform is a strategic measure in fragile states. Reform helps to manage conflict, improve security, and promote peace. The departure from repressive tradition will provide sustained political and economic growth, a stable environment, and social reconciliation. It will also broaden transparency and accountability of government, local ownership, anti-corruption, and government legitimacy.

Security and development programs need to be integrated. Every leader, every government should be committed to an effective system based on equity, justice, and inclusiveness. Strengthening alliances with the local community is essential to integrate security and development.

Skeptics will say that security sector reform is hard to achieve: Of course, it is. But there are many examples of success. With the help of international organizations and western governments, countries such as Lesotho and Ghana are making significant advancements in the effort of retraining their security forces. The individual and the state are secured by well-trained patriotic men and women in uniform.

Security sector reform is central to the realization of all goals of fragile states. It will promote productive and responsible governance. It will help societies evolve in more secure, democratic, and prosperous ways. It will create an enabling environment for businesses, investments, social services, and overall economic development growth. With the reform of the security sector, there will be prosperity and peace.